Elbow arthritis results from joint surface destruction caused by normal wear and tear, joint inflammation, previous elbow injuries or elbow surgeries. Joint destruction often causes elbow stiffness and pain, and makes normal elbow movements more difficult. Arthritis caused by immune system inflammation is called rheumatoid arthritis, while arthritis caused by wear and tear is called osteoarthritis.
The elbow is also susceptible to stress injuries. Repeated stressful motions, such as the rotation of the forearm in some sports, can cause pain from overuse of the joint (e.g. tennis elbow). Some of these injuries can contribute to arthritis later on.
If the pain in your elbow is so severe that it interferes with your daily activities, you should see your physician about treatment options.